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February 7, 2012
For Robert Woods, the mantle is his now.
Once, for at least for part of his freshman season anyway, he was the understudy to USC's veteran wide receivers.
Now he's a USC elder statesman, a role he's embraced as in the signings Wednesday of receivers Nelson Agholor and Darreus Rogers.
As far as Woods is concerned, he's merely continuing the standard set before him.
"It was the same way when I was coming up," Woods said. "RoJo [Ronald Johnson] would always text me and try to get me in the playbook. Damian [Williams] and [David] Ausberry would text me with advice. I'm just trying to do the same for these young guys."
Especially for a local player like Rogers when it comes time to making a college choice.
"The more times you get to come up here and visit with these guys and see what we're like, I think you can get a good feel for us," Woods said. "I think him coming up here and seeing what the Trojans team is all about is key."
Woods talked of his own ability to grasp the offense and playbook quickly from being around the program as a key for his early success as a Trojan. There was a direct benefit when competing for early playing time.
"I'm happy that he chose to compete," he said of Rogers, who chose to join a talent-rich wide receiver position. "I think that's what Trojans football is all about."
And even though Agholor is from Florida, he and Woods have a longstanding friendship that Woods believed helped Agholor with his recruiting process.
"He came here for a camp and we clicked right away," Woods said. "I just felt like he's a good guy, a good kid. All of my roommates and I have talked to Nelson a lot for the past year and he's just like our little 'bro'."
As much as Woods likes Agholor as a person, he was impressed with his football skills before he ever met him.
"I was watching his highlight tape and I loved the way he plays," Woods said. "I thought he'd be a great attribute for the Trojans and I thought 'We've got to have him.' "
Woods' experience with these new signees makes him think back to his own recruitment, which came during a time of turbulence for USC as Pete Carroll left the program a month before Signing Day.
Woods had verbally committed to USC but "when Pete Carroll left it was just one of those things like, 'Where are we going to go?' "
Woods got the news right before the Army All-American game, as did several other USC commits -- Dillon Baxter, Kyle Prater and D.J. Morgan.
"One of my biggest memories from that game was how we still stayed together and stuck with our decision," Woods said. "Me and DJ talked about it and we're like 'We're going to stay strong and keep the Trojan family together.' "
Keeping it together and now, doing his best to help add to it, as well.
Johnie Freatman is a Communications major at USC and has covered the Trojans for Neon Tommy, KXSC Radio, Trojan Vision and ATVN. Follow him on Twitter at johnie_freatman.
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